I crafted my vision for Celestial Bodies by using models submerged underwater in deftly designed scenarios, photographed in my native home of Hawaii.
This connection between water and space is explored in a way that shows the beauty, freedom and, conversely, the struggle and complexity of the human condition (a recurring motif in my work). The two vast expanses are juxtaposed, their order and chaos, and one’s feeling of being infinitesimal, yet feeling the wonder of being a part of the universe at large. These emotions caused the ancient Greeks and other past civilizations to look for answers in the majesty of the stars.
The Celestial Bodies collection explores the human condition and spirit through the gravitationally bound structures of the universe. I’m exploring the idea of the two opposing yet complementary forces into which creative energy divides, and whose fusion brings the phenomenal world into being, with double images that I hoped would transport one in time and space into a classical yet futuristic world.
For over a decade I’ve explored elaborate scenes of otherworldly colours and entwined bodies that celebrate humankind’s vigour and warmth. This project was a way to take it to the next level and let go of the material world around us; to imagine us as more than that.
I used a Nikon D810 and 24-70mm f/2.8 and love the soft natural tones and silkiness of the final images. The models were in a pool and I shot from above to use the refraction of light between water and air.
Outer space and nebulae
There will always be a central concept that I base everything around and from there I keep notebooks of ideas and technical thoughts. For this collection I was researching outer space and nebulae. Then comes the logistical part of planning the shoot, choosing the models, costumes and colours. First, the pool is scheduled, then, once we arrive, we all let go and explore how far we can go with these concepts. There was something magical about this time for me, where I really wanted to expand my vision and go into unknown territories. It was the first time that I became interested in outer space, what was happening out there and how we were connected.
Usually I shoot with ‘normal’ people, rather than pro models, teaching them as we go along. This can be challenging at first, but it’s what gives life and purpose to each image, because you’re feeling what’s real. And that realness is vulnerability.